Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Avian-Style Baby Names

In a previous life, I would write in my spare time about baby names. I had fun and would sporadically write missives that ranged from “funny” to “probably too bitterly sarcastic” concerning people’s ideas of ‘good’ names. Not your kids’ names, of course, because those are all good. I mean those other kids’ names. All of those suck.

Ok, not all names suck because names all have meaning. It is the ignorance or misapplication of that meaning that makes names suck. So, with that as my vaguely general guidelines for good and bad names, I present to you:

Popular Avian-Influenced Baby Names

All data was taken from the Social Security index of baby names using the most recent data (2011). I’ll tackle each sex separately, with the number being the rank (1 being most popular, 998 being very unpopular and probably crappy).


-219: Drake. I find it odd that I have to go all the way to the 219th name to get a bird-related one. Oh, believe me, I tried to shoehorn a couple names in there (“Cooper could be like the hawk!” “Avery has the right sounds!”), but nothing quite seemed really birdy. I never would have guessed that the most popular boys Avian name would be “Drake”; it always conjures images of fake sounding characters like Joey’s soap opera character, Dr. Drake Ramoray, on Friends.

-228: Griffin. Ok, slightly cheating because griffons are only part bird, but close enough. Truth be told, I really like the name Griffin.

-262: Martin. Look, a real name that just happens to overlap with a bird name! True story: I’ve met multiple people with the last name of Martin who were ornithologists. None of them worked on martins though.

-388: Phoenix. Let’s pick right back up with the mythology section of this post! I know someone who, if she had a son, wanted to name him this. I didn’t tell her then, but it is a horrendous name for a child. I also used to live near Phoenix and the city doesn’t inspire homage via names.

-401: Jay. Another fun “real name that happens to also be a name of a bird” name! I always wonder if people with the last name of Stellar or Gray ever name their kid “Jay” without knowing of the birds? “Jay Stellar” would be an awesome name, “Jay Gray” not quite as much.

-534: Skylar. Just add a “k” and you have a bird! Ok, that is lame (and the Skyler variant was higher, but this one is closer to either the bird or the Buick), but then again I’m sure this name (like any boy that has it) is used to being mocked with crappy jokes.

-764: Darwin. Not actually a bird, but we must always acknowledge one of the most important scientists that has ever existed. Without him there would be no modern biology and bird-related activities would simply be stamp collecting. Wait, huh, that’s how most birders are anyway?


-110: Piper. Middle name of Sandra would be too awesome? Also, the existence of Buff-breasted Sandpipers and White-rumped Sandpipers.

-145: Skylar. See above, but interesting how people can’t decide if this is a boys name, a girls name, or a Buick’s name (yeah, I’m recycling the Buick Skylark joke again!).

-310: Phoebe. Another name that coincidentally is also a bird name. I get to discuss Friends again! Phoebe was, by far, the worst character in the whole show. She brought the scenes down with her one-dimensional stupid character and, when the writers tried to add depth and more dimensions to her, it fell flat because she then was a stupid and one-dimensional character who now had an elaborate and non-believable background. Also, those other characters would never willingly hang out with her (though probably each for different reasons).

-591: Raven. Seriously, there is nothing feminine about this name. Ravens are big birds who, while smart, scavenge an awful lot. Would Vulture be a good name too if some child actress had it?

-645: Phoenix. Ugh, not much better as a girl’s name, but at least it is better than having a boy named after a flaming, feather-clad beast.

-831: Avianna. There you go, this one is a great bird-relate name! I didn’t think I would find such a enjoyably appropriate name after wading through all the crap names on the lower end of the list.

There was not quite that many on the list, but there could be some good bird-related names if only people would give them a chance! Ok, they may not be ‘good’, but at least they would be better than the buckeloads of absolutely stupid names that populate the lower range of the top 1000 (and, hell, much of the upper range too).

-Cormorant. Wouldn’t Cormorant Smith sound pretty cool? No? A stretch, maybe, but better than Phoenix.

-Gannet. Sort of looks like Janet, but I imagine Gannet to be a boys name. Gannet R. Johnson, attorney at law. Another miss, huh?

-Brant. Ok, I’ve actually seen this one on a baseball player, Brant Brown. I actually always thought it was a pretty cool name, but that is probably based on how well it flowed with the last name. Also, I will find those damn Brants this week.

. It does sound like a stripper name, but more of a high class stripper who isn’t financially forced to work the champagne room.

-Falcon. I do not think this is a good name, but I do have a story! I am into board games (no, not Monopoly! Think Agricola, Dominion, Arkham Horror, or even Settlers of Catan) and I will spend time in gamer stores. These stores attract all sorts beyond board gamers: miniature geeks, role playing geeks, comics geeks, and Magic: the Gathering geeks. Sure, I can deal with all those geeks, but the Magic geeks usually have the most aggressively idiosyncratic and messed up geeks in their rank.

So one day I was playing some game when a Magic game sprang up at the table behind me. It must have been a few games and the people were chatting and introducing themselves when I (eavesdropping, of course) heard one of them say “you can call me Falcon.”

It took all my effort to not laugh out loud, especially when I turned around and saw that “Falcon” was not a big, burly, manly man, you know, the only type that could properly take on the moniker of a badass bird of prey. Nope, Falcon was a short, dweeby guy in glasses who probably hadn’t washed his hair for a few days (but he did brush it!).

People, don’t name your kids Falcon. Kids, don’t name yourselves Falcon.

-Sora. Sort of sounds like a name for a girl, right?

-Avocet. Uhhhh, girls name I guess?

-Sanderling. This doesn’t so much sound like a name, but more like something that people would name their kids. When you read through all the baby names in the top 1000, you get a feeling for this and, no, I am not sure if someone would think this is a boy or girl name.

-Snipe. Like Wesley! Sure, he got thrown in jail and all, but let me give you a word of advice: always bet on black.

-Jaeger. Last name type thingy, therefore it might sound like a first name in the proper conditions. Plus, if they person turns out to be on Social Security, he can be nicknamed “Parasitic Jaegar.”

. I’m surprised this isn’t on the list already as some parents give it as an homage to Ani DiFranco (not my style of music, so no linky). Hell, there is a kid in my kids’ school with this name! I wonder how many people who go by Ani are actually named Anne?

-Lark. I guess I am surprised that this wasn’t already on the list. This was Lisa Turtle’s real first name!

. Now this was shocking. It hasn’t been in the top 1000 for girls for 9 years and not for boys in 14 years. Wow, when I started this, I just assumed it would be on and it would allow me to discuss how it could be a boys or girls name. Instead I discussed that with (ugh!) Skylar and Phoenix, both of which are orders of magnitude more popular that Robin.

-Starling. This is odd, because there are a couple Hispanic baseball players (Starlin Castro (close enough) and Starling Marte) with this name, and both from the Dominican Republic. I wonder what is up with that? Were their mothers both named Clarice (or Claric for Castro)?

-Oriole. I actually met someone who had this as a first name once. He was from Spain.

-Phainopepla. Not really, but I just like the sounds in it. Hell, it isn’t as bad as Temperance (941), Malaysia (971), or Princess (865).

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